At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” – Luke 13:31
We’ve all had moments like this – moments where quitting would be the easy way out. You find yourself facing an obstacle and you can’t imagine getting past it. We don’t have to look for these moments – they find us. I’m not sure how it works in your world, but the more I’m doing what God wants me to do, the more opposition seeks me out. The easy way out would be to quit.
Jesus’ foes were all up in his face telling him he better relocate his ministry and slinging death threats. Thankfully, most obstacles come in a less forceful or violent form. Obstacles can come in the form of direct opposition, passive aggressive behavior or conflict. Other forms include time pressures, over-commitment, discouragement, depression or fatigue. There are more obstacles than I can list, but we know one when we see one.
What we need to know is what to do about them. What follows is Jesus’ reaction to his opposition and in it, a strategy to overcome those moments where quitting sounds like a release from a problem. So here goes. Jesus answered them by saying…
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day – Luke 13:32–33
That’s a stout response, isn’t it? I’m impressed by Jesus’ toughness and unwillingness to back down or even consider quitting. There’s one simple reason for this – he KNEW what he was suppose to do. He knew what the end game was for His life. He said, “on the third day I will reach my goal“, referring to his death and resurrection. Jesus knew that he came for the mission to redeem mankind. Because he knew the end game, nothing would dissuade him from his goal.
That begs the question for us – what is our end game? What is our goal? Without nailing this question down, you or I might be talked out of anything. We might be tempted to give up when times get tough. But, if you have the right why behind the what, nothing could drag you away from your goal. We’ll be able to say like Jesus, “I will reach my goal“!
What is your goal as a parent? A spouse? A follower of Jesus Christ? Answering those questions will go a long way in giving you the resolve to stick with it when you want to quit.
Because Jesus knew his endgame, he also knew what the non-negotiables in his schedule would be. He said, “I will keep on …“. He was going to keep on doing what he was doing. There were certain actions he would not stop doing since they led to his ultimate goal. These actions are not tied to a title, position or recognition. It is something he was compelled to do regardless of who noticed. Consider this. Make a “I will keep on” list Write down the actions that you want as a part of your life regardless of where you live, who you are married to or what your profession is. When you nail down what you will keep on doing, it is a whole lot easier to recognize what you don’t need to be doing!
I’ve decided that on my list belongs spending daily time with God, alone time pursing my wife and kids and investing myself into other for the sake of reproducing disciples that make disciples. It involves teaching God’s Word, sharing His good news and leading others to do the same. That’s a pretty short list, but its one I can commit to and not quit on.
How about you? What does your list look like?
Finally, Jesus said, “I must press on…” You can hear the urgency in Jesus’ tone at this point. There is too much riding on him to fail. He will battle his body, his mind and his foes in order to complete the mission. For us, this comes down to the habits and disciples that we’ll need to accomplish our goals. Those habits help us keep moving forward even if our emotions or other people are trying to get us to quit. When we get in the habit of doing the little things well on a regular basis, over the long haul, they pay huge dividends.
Here’s an example. Most people want to know God in a deeper level and to know His will for their lives. That’s a big goal worth striving for. Yet, that goal is only attained through a regular habit of carving out time to pray, seek, and read His Word. If that goal is not in the forefront, then when an obstacle like a schedule change, tiredness or distractions enter in, they quit on their goal. When that habit of getting up earlier or making time during the day isn’t established, the action is quickly discarded. Such a person is only one crisis away from giving up on God, because they have not developed the resolved based on a goal and related actions.
Keeping yourself from quitting in the important areas of your life requires resolve. It means you will have to say no to good opportunities to stay with what matters most. It means leading yourself with discipline and consistency. It means being able to answer some hard questions about your priorities and schedule. Questions like … What are you doing that is not leading towards your end game? And what little action do you need to start in order to see the big win happen?
So here’s to not quitting. There is too much riding on it. Let the little things go, but don’t quit on the big stuff. People are counting on you to get it right. And best of all, God is available to pick up the pieces and help us to start anew when we want to throw in the towel.